Staging Your Life

Summer rental season is approaching. Word on the street is that renters are busy signing leases but the competition is stiff. It seems like everyone has jumped on the “rent your house for the summer” bandwagon. According to Robert Murray, SVP at Corcoran in Westhampton Beach “The rental market is hot! The best properties are being snapped up fast and the ‘best properties’ are waterfront, pool front, and those that are neat, clean, inviting and look like ‘summer!’” If you want your home to stand out from the competition and be “snapped up,” there are a number of easy steps you can take to make it more attractive to renters.

It’s a fact, certain homes rent immediately for the entire season and for top dollar while similar rentals (same price range and geographically similar) languish. Many homeowners end up accepting low-ball offers at the end of the season out of desperation. Here are some tips to help prevent your listing from being left high and dry.

The first thing to do is to take an impartial look at your home. View your home through the eyes of potential renters. This sounds easy, however people love their own homes and their stuff. Our stuff represents who we are, and it’s tricky to see our homes with emotional detachment (hence professional stagers). One way to do this is to step back and snap some photos of your house. Since over 95% of all renters will be seeing your online listing photos before ever viewing the home, this has several advantages. You will see what they will see. How does it stack up? Does your home look clean, well kept and uncluttered? Does it look like a location where you would want to spend money to vacation?

That secret “something” that many popular rentals tout is vacation appeal. Think Bed and Breakfast. Think Luxury, think Spa. Take some inventory of your house. Is the bathroom sporting big, fluffy clean towels? Are there fresh cool white (or neutral) sheets? Or is your bathroom filled with your toothbrushes, prescriptions, and shampoo bottles? (This is a no-no) Is the kitchen organized and user-friendly with clear counter tops, matching full sets of dishes and glassware? Is your home sporting lifestyle amenities? Can I make a Margarita? Martinis? Think vacation mode activities. Does your home reflect this? Summer vacation = beach, pool, BBQ, relaxation, elegant-but-casual lifestyle. Your home should demonstrate that fabulous Hamptons lifestyle!

Some “must haves” for renters: pool and beach accessories and towels, plenty of outdoor seating, games (board and lawn), reading material, TV/entertainment/sound system (indoors and outdoors), gourmet kitchen equipment, BBQ accoutrements.

I frequently tell my clients: “No one wants to live in YOUR home. They want their own space.” Remove Grandma’s photo. Paint over the pencil marks with your kids’ height. Are your beloved houseplants hanging on for dear life? Toss them and buy new ones. Your home is now a product to be marketed.  Your “product” is competing with a number of other “products” and what you do to improve it, is an investment in getting it rented.

Strive for that summery feel. Yes, this may translate into seashells and accessories with fish/boat motifs… but be subtle. It also means cool, refreshing wall colors. It means repainting those red dining room walls a soft neutral color and replacing heavy draperies. It means bringing in natural textures like wicker and sisal. Good “summer” colors are sand, gray, taupe, beige, white, blues, greens and “beach glass” colors.

These are a few generic ideas to get you on the right track. It goes without saying that every house is unique and, depending on the price range your home may require, more upscale tweaks. A professional Home Stager can do all of this and more, transforming your home into a place renters will fall in love with and creating a home for you that will feel like “vacation” all year.

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